Four local minor hockey players are ready to showcase their skills when they represent Lloydminster next week at the 2019 Alberta Cup. Andrew Beres, Jari Kykkanen, Jagger Firkus, and Reid Mackay joined 120 players who were selected to participate in the tournament.
“It’s just crazy that I get to play with some of the best players my age, around probably the world and all of Canada,” 15-year-old Andrew Beres expresses his excitement for being selected in one word, surreal. “I’m grateful for that. It’s going to be a great experience playing with those guys.”
The tournament includes some players who will be chosen in the Western Hockey League draft, which is held the following week. Eighty players from this year’s competition will also be selected to attend Team Alberta’s Provincial Camp in July, with a chance to represent their province at the 2019 WHL Cup in Calgary.
Forward Andrew Beres and Reid Mackay will be playing for Alberta Black, and goaltender Jari Kykkanen and forward Jagger Firkus will be playing for Alberta Blue.
“I’m going to get ready, get sleep, eat well, skate a couple of times and play the best hockey that I can,” Beres says he isn’t focused on the scouts. He just wants to play his game and win.
“You got to be the best. You have to go in there and show them what you got,” Forward Reid Mackay says the experience is nerve-racking but he has a gameplan.
Twenty 2004-born players make up each of the six teams, along with volunteers serving as head coach, assistant coaches, trainer, and director of operations. Lloydminster will also have some representation behind the bench in Red Deer, with Ambrose Firkus stepping in as Assistant Coach for Alberta Grey and Coach Mentor Kyle Tapp assisting Alberta Yellow.
Coach Mentor for Alberta Yellow, Kyle Tapp says the Tournament will help show how Lloydminster players stack up against top tier talent across Alberta. He says stand out hockey players have always been in Lloydminster and surrounding areas.
“It’s always been here, we can trace it back twenty years, well before I was here. the Junior B teams were always strong.”
Tapp has been a coach for 16 years and led Team Northeast to the Albert Cup Championship in 2011-2012. He says local hockey training facilities in the city have been a huge part in developing Lloydminster hockey talent.
“What we have been able to do is provide the rural kid with the same advantages that the city kids have in terms of on-ice/off-ice training and the talents always been here. Once you can focus that talent in the right direction they can achieve their full potential.”
The tournament will take place between April 24-28 at the Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre at Red Deer College.